To issue this permit is unconscionable and unacceptable and an affront to the citizens of Florida and their descendants.
Heather Obara of the Florida Springs Institute has sent the following press release. We have posted earlier about this event, and also have done six posts regarding the ethics charges against the district’s governing board chairman, John Miklos, recently re-elected chair in spite of the charges. OSFR urges everyone who is able to attend this meeting and to speak to the board against this permit.
We also urge you to write your protests to Dr. Ann Shortelle, Executive Director of the district.
Dr. Ann Shortelle Executive Director
St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street
Palatka, FL 32177
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Please spread the word to your members and supporters about this event. The Facebook event link can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/939287502868957/. This is a joint effort by multiple FSC member organizations and we need your help to have as many people as possible at this event. Please also continue to encourage your members to submit public comment prior to and at the Governing Board meeting. Thank you!
Heather Obara, Esq.
Treasurer-Secretary, Florida Springs Council
Office: (386) 454-2427
Fax: (386) 454-9369
JANUARY 5, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PERMIT THREATENS FUTURE OF SILVER SPRINGS
DEMONSTRATION PLANNED TO URGE DENIAL BY WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT
Palatka, FL – On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Governing Board will decide the fate of a permit request from Sleepy Creek Lands to increase its existing allocation of groundwater by 84%.
A demonstration and press event is being organized by St. Johns RIVERKEEPER, Florida Springs Council, Silver Springs Alliance, Sierra Club Suwannee-St. Johns Group, Putnam County Environmental Council, and Florida Defenders of the Environment at the SJRWMD offices in Palatka to urge the Governing Board members to deny the consumptive use permit (CUP).
SAVE SILVER SPRINGS DEMONSTRATION AND PRESS EVENT
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 10:00 AM
4049 Reid Street, Palatka 32177
The Sleepy Creek Lands permit is on the Governing Board agenda for 11 AM.
Sleepy Creek Lands (formerly known as Adena Springs Ranch) and its Canadian billionaire owner, Frank Stronach, are seeking consumptive use permits from the St. Johns River Water Management District for a massive 3-phase cattle operation located adjacent to Silver Springs.
Despite widespread public opposition and a lengthy legal fight, Sleepy Creek Lands received approval in 2015 for 1.46 million gallons of water a day (MGD) for Phase I of the project. Now, the applicant is seeking an 84% increase in the existing allocation to an annual average of 2.68 MGD and daily maximum of 9.57 MGD.
The environmental organizations are concerned that the withdrawal of water from an over-tapped aquifer will further reduce the flow from Silver Springs and exacerbate the existing nutrient pollution problem that plagues this iconic National Natural Landmark.
“We know that the historic flow rates of Silver Springs have declined dramatically. We know that the springs and the Silver River are suffering from excessive nitrate levels, requiring a reduction in nutrient pollution by 79% from existing users,” states Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper. “So, how in the world can more water withdrawals and more pollution possibly be justified? The answer is – they can’t.”
Concerns also surround the recent about face by SJRWMD staff. The Technical Staff Report (TSR) for the permit originally recommended a Substantive Denial due to a projected reduction in the flow of Silver Springs, adverse impacts to riparian floodplains and the in-stream channel, potential for land collapse, and reduction in aquatic fauna and habitat. However, the District staff recently revised the TSR and now recommends issuing the permit.
“In 2014, the District staff concluded that this additional permitted withdrawal, in combination with all other water use permits, would reduce Silver Springs flow by about 50 million gallons per day, causing adverse harm to the spring-fed river and surrounding floodplain wetlands,” explains Dr. Bob Knight, Florida Springs Council. “Something obviously changed, but it certainly wasn’t the science.”
Jim Gross, Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, adds, “The about face taken by the District on this critical issue is disturbing by itself. Taken in the context of the continuing pressure exerted on agency staff to provide politically acceptable scientific opinions, it is also suspicious.”
“We, the people, have a responsibility to hold our government accountable and expose the District and the politics that are undermining our waterways,” declares Whitey Markle, Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club Suwannee-St. Johns Group. “We hope this demonstration will serve as a rallying cry for Silver Springs and more protective policy decisions. If citizens stay on the sidelines, we won’t see the change that is necessary.”